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Original Entry by Xu Zhang

What is a nanopore?

A nanopore is a small hole in an electrically insulating membrane, that can be used as a single-molecule detector. It may be considered a Coulter counter for much smaller particles. It can be a biological protein channel in a high electrical resistance lipid bilayer or a pore in a solid-state membrane.

Detection mechanism

The detection principle is based on monitoring the ionic current of an electrolyte solution passing through the nanopore as a voltage is applied across the membrane. When the nanopore is of molecular dimensions, passage of molecules (e.g., DNA) cause interruptions of the "open" current level, leading to a "translocation event" signal.


Solid-state nanopores are generally made in silicon compound membranes, one of the most common being silicon nitride. Solid-state nanopores can be manufactured with several techniques including ion-beam sculpting and electron beams.


Nanopores are making contributions to the understanding of polymer biophysics, as well as to single-molecule analysis of DNA-protein interactions.

External Link

[1]Nanopore sequencing



Graphene as a subnanometre trans-electrode membrane

Detecting single stranded DNA with a solid state nanopore

Probing nanotube-nanopore interactions